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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2012 Oct 30;26(20):2477-82. doi: 10.1002/rcm.6365.

Direct mass spectrometric screening of antibiotics from bacterial surfaces using liquid extraction surface analysis.

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Research Group Mass Spectrometry, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Jena, Germany.



There is a need to find new antibiotic agents to fight resistant pathogenic bacteria. To search successfully for novel antibiotics from bacteria cultivated under diverse conditions, we need a fast and cost-effective screening method.


A combination of Liquid Extraction Surface Analysis (LESA), automated chip-based nanoelectrospray ionization, and high-resolution mass or tandem mass spectrometry using an Orbitrap XL was tested as the screening platform. Actinobacteria, known to produce well-recognized thiazolyl peptide antibiotics, were cultivated on a plate of solid medium and the antibiotics were extracted by organic solvent mixtures from the surface of colonies grown on the plate and analyzed using mass spectrometry (MS).


LESA combined with high-resolution MS is a powerful tool with which to extract and detect thiazolyl peptide antibiotics from different Actinobacteria. Known antibiotics were correctly detected with high mass accuracy (<4 ppm) and structurally characterized using tandem mass spectra. Our method is the first step toward the development of a novel high-throughput extraction and identification tool for antibiotics in particular and natural products in general.


The method described in this paper is suitable for (1) screening the natural products produced by bacterial colonies on cultivation plates within the first 2 min following extraction and (2) detecting antibiotics at high mass accuracy; the cost is around 2 Euro per sample.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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